Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Order for Comics Shipping Primarily in February 2008

Trying to pull everything together before I lose the use of my right hand for a week or so; carpal tunnel surgery, but unlike with my left hand/arm, there is no separate ulnar nerve impairment, which means no cracking open of bones near my elbow and rearranging the placement of nerves. The stitches won't come out until December 26, but I'm hoping to have some use of my hand before then.

Anyway, here's the list. I thought it was a large month, but even before I edit this down, I'm way under budget, so much so that I'm going to try to backorder some comics, Proof and Sword, that I forgot to continue ordering after the first issues. Anything in red, I'm on the fence about ordering.

Previews, vol. XVIII #2
Abe Sapien The Drowning #1
BPRD 1946 #2
Buffy The Vampire Slayer #11
End League #2
Complete Green Lama Featuring Art of Mac Raboy
(Completely reading minds at DC, the reason they haven't collected any of the Quality super-hero comics, besides Plastic Man, or Fawcett super-hero comics, besides the Marvels, into Archives is because all of that work is in the public domain. Therefore, I assume that since DC cannot make a claim for absolute ownership, and thereby preventing others from reprinting the same public domain stories, DC reprints none of it as Archives, leaving the overpriced Men of Mystery as the only outlet for such work. With that in mind, Dark Horse should be congratulated for reprinting these Green Lama stories, especially since Green Lama will be appearing in Dynamic Forces Superpowers series out at the same time as this.)

Gotham Underground #5
Batman and the Outsiders #4
Batman #674
Detective Comics #841
Catwoman #76
Action Comics #862
Superman #673
Countdown To Final Crisis ##12-9
(I'll get around to why this is a better series than 52, but until then, screw all you haters, this is a good comic book.)

Countdown To Adventure #7
Countdown To Mystery #6
Countdown Lord Havok and the Extremists #5
Crime Bible The Five Lessons of Blood #5
Death of the New Gods #6
Salvation Run #4
Teen Titans Year One #2
Teen Titans #56
Booster Gold #0
Bat Lash #3
Infinity Inc #6
Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #6
All New Atom #20
Birds of Prey #115
Brave and the Bold #10
Green Lantern #28
Justice League of America #18
Justice Society of America #13
JLA Classified ##52-53
Metal Men #6
Legion of Super-Heroes #39
Spirit #15
Shadowpact #22
Wonder Woman #17
Showcase Presents Phantom Stranger, vol. 2
Will Eisner’s Spirit Archives, vol. 24
Tiny Titans #1
Batman Strikes #42
Justice League Unlimited #42
Teen Titans Go! #52
Legion of Super Heroes In the 31st Century #11
Astro City The Dark Age Special #2 Beautie
(Am I the only one who feels that Astro City is missing something in this permutation?)

Ex Machina #34
Jack of Fables #20
Fables #70
Perhapanauts Annual #1
Urban Monsters #1
True Story Swear To God Archives, vol. 1
(I hate having to re-buy things, but the final pre-Image issues were never traded, so I'm forced to buy this to get those. Oh, well, I've spent more on things far less.)

Dynamo 5 #12
Fearless #4
Godland #21
Jack Staff #14.
Pax Romana #4
Proof #5
Red Mass For Mars #3
Nearly Complete Essential Hembeck Archives Omnibus
(Buying two, one for me and one for my brother, It feels good to have one Christmas present off the list for next year.)

Savage Dragon #137
Shark-Man #2
Sword #5
Giant Size Astonishing X-Men #1
Amazing Spider-Girl #17
Annihilation Conquest #4
Avengers Initiative #10
Black Panther Annual #1
Captain America #35
Daredevil #105
Fantastic Four #554
Immortal Iron Fist Orson Randall Green Mist Death
World War Hulk Aftersmash: Damage Control #2
Iron Man Power Pack #4
Ms Marvel #24
Mighty Avengers #9
New Avengers #38
Nova Annual #1
Order #8
She-Hulk 2 #26
Twelve #2
Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four #33
Marvel Adventures Hulk #8
Marvel Adventures Avengers #21
Marvel Adventures Iron Man #10
Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #36
Essential Avengers, vol. 6
(The last Essential Avengers I should ever buy as it is the first that contains reprints of more comics that I own than that I don't.)

Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury #295
Bart Simpson Comics #40
Simpsons Comics #139
Superpowers #2
PS238 #30
Angel After the Fall #4
Abyss #3
Atomic Robo #5
Neozoic #3
Nexus #101
Comics Now #2
Marvel Defenders Minimates

Tiny Titans May Have Legs

Well, of course, they'd have to for all their running around and daring-do, but that is neither here nor there.

I've already said my piece over what at first appeared to be the cancellation of Justice League Unlimited and Teen Titans Go! in favor of new kid-centric comics. Titans Go! received a reprieve, and hopefully JLU will, too. I bring this up because the first comic of the revamped kids line is being solicited for February 2008. I've long enjoyed Art Baltazar's & Franco's work on Patrick the Wolf Boy and I have high hopes for this comic. Somebody at DC must have faith in Tiny Titans as it made the back cover of the latest Previews.

Maybe that person is right, because when I showed the cover to my one-year-old daughter, first she smiled and then she cried when she couldn't have Previews. I'd have bought a copy of this anyway, first to read and then put away for her when she is older, but now I think I'll buy two copies, one to read and save and one for her to eventually destroy as she looks through it.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Compared to Countdown, 52 is a failure

I didn't mean to let so much time to past between posts, but that's the way things sometimes go, unfortunately. I've been working on this post on and off, so I thought I'd post the first part, the second part to follow soon.

From its fifty-first issue, I've heard more complaints about Countdown then I think the series deserves. Many appear to favor 52 as the better series for any number of reasons and with this I disagree. I think, there was more excitement over 52's release because of: (1) the gathering of DC talent, apparently in harmony, to write the comic; and (2) people waiting for the book to stumble and miss a week. Soon, it became apparent that the book wouldn't miss a week, so more people enjoyed the comic for its own sake. Still, despite some enjoyable stories, especially Booster Gold's story, 52 left me cold, never fulfilled its pre-publication promises. For me, 52, no matter how good the stories were, was ultimately a failure because what was offered for sale was different from what was initially promised. However, I am enjoying Countdown much more than I did 52, if for no other reason then that week in and week out, Countdown is exactly the comic book promised.

I think many complaints about Countdown derive from the fact that it isn't 52, which isn't fair to either book. The two are different titles, created with two different purposes aforethought. To complain about Countdown for what it isn't is like being told a red object on display is an apple, buying it after being told it is an apple, and then complaining after taking a bite that it isn't an orange. Countdown is the apple, 52 is the orange.

When we first heard of 52, we were told that it would be a weekly comic published for one year, set in the post-Infinite Crisis DCU and where we would see how the DCU functions without Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Additionally, 52 had at least one ongoing hook, "What is 52?", though some, like me, could include the "few months later" questions, such as how did Hawkgirl become a giant and then return to normal size, as another set of mysteries in the book. In the wake of 52's success, DC announced Countdown as its next year-long, weekly comic. The raison d'etre of Countdown, we were told, was that it would serve as the backbone of the DCU as the DCU marched toward "something," which we since have learned is Final Crisis. Additionally, it was said, that if a person read just Countdown, that person could still follow the threads of story therein and when the book ended, have all the information needed in order to follow and enjoy Final Crisis.

Looking first at 52, I suggest that by the time the first issue was printed, DC promised readers they would see three things by its end: 1) Readers would honestly see the DCU without Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman; (2) The presentation and the solution of the "mystery of 52," in which I will expand to include the mysteries within 52, like the "few months later" explanations and who is Supernova; and (3) To present comic-book stories in real-time. For me, by its end, 52 only came through on (3). As for the first two points, the story driving the "mystery of 52" started strong, but that was swept aside early in the run as the writers changed the direction of the book, telling more personal stories of the portagonist(s), thereby isolating the stories more from the DCU than I think was originally intended.

Does anyone really think that the World War III one-shots were part of the 52 publication plan, especially since they weren't written by the 52 writers? I know that in light of the many Countdown-related titles currently in release, it seems absurd that the WWIII one-shots weren't planned out, but wasn't part of 52's conceit the statement that the entire story would take place within its pages. Yet, it appears to me that WWIII wasn't a planned event because within those four books were all the little bits of business necessary to show a DCU without the Big 3 and to get characters and titles to the places they were found when at the beginning of the "One Year Later" stories. People cry constantly that they are forced to buy comics other then Countdown to follow the story, an opinion with which disagree; as part of the Countdown side of this post, I may explain the difference between "necessary to follow the story" and "obsessive need to make sure some scrap of story isn't encountered first hand"; but if you are going to complain about and not the other, then you are blind to the faults of 52.

And, personally, that is the reason that 52 failed with regard to making due with the pre-publication promises. Because of the focus on five core stories--Booster, Question, Heroes in Space, Luthor gives out super powers, and Island of the Mad Scientists--the greater sweep of the DCU was forgotten. By series end, I never had a feeling for the DCU would be like without Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman because there was really nothing inherent in the stories in 52 that made them any different had they been printed as individual mini-series. The year without the Big 3 didn't feel any different reading a random story featuring a random hero.

For example, months can go by in Flash or Birds of Prey with nary a mention or appearance of the Big 3, let alone other DCU characters. You might counter this by saying Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman are at least available to lend a hand in those books, but the reality is that, unless it is crossover season, the central character(s) rarely ask for outside help. That's the feeling I developed reading 52: these were five individual stories presented in the traditional DCU and the absence of the Big 3 from those stories was felt no differently by the protagonists therein then if they were going about their lives on any random Wednesday without Batman, Superman, and/or Wonder Woman showing up.

When the time came to reveal the solution of the mystery of 52, the trend of the book, save for the Booster Gold story, had moved so far from having the mystery being central that the solution felt more like an afterthought. That the mystery of 52 had become secondary to many readers was apparent from the reaction of "What mystery?" to the final house ad for the series that asked the reader, "Have you solved the mystery?" If possible, forget that Dan Didio spilled the secret in a DC Nation column months before the series was complete, and just think about 52; do you remember thinking about the mystery of 52 as any of the various stories, other then Booster's, were coming to an end?

In the end, all 52 was was just an anthology title sold to a readership that, so we are told, do not like or want anthologies. It was not pre-sold that way, but that is what it became. All the flaws of 52 are ignored while a majority (or maybe a more vocal minority, afterall, this discussion is happening primarily on the Internet) fixate on the many problems with Countdown, the main problem being that it isn't 52. Next time, why Countdown isn't as awful as people think it is.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tenative DCBS Shipment for November

And here's the list of what I think will be arriving from DCBS some time between Nov. 29 and Dec. 3, along with a few pre-arival comments:

52 Aftermath The Four Horsemen #4
Action Comics #859
All New Atom #17
All Star Superman #9
Amazing Spider-Girl #14
Angel After The Fall #1
Annihilation Conquest #1
Annihilation Conquest Star Lord #4
Archibald Saves Christmas #1
I am a sucker for Christmas comic books. I used to love the oversized Christmas reprints DC and Marvel used to release in the seventies. Not that this is in the same vein, but it does have "Christmas" in the title.

Astonishing X-Men #23
Atomic Robo #2
Avengers Initiative #7
Back Issue #25
Batman and the Outsiders ##1-2
I'm still concerned that after the remarkable rehabilitation of Batman's persona post-Infinite Crisis/52, this title is a harbinger that Bat-jerk is still hovering around, ready to reappear permanently, which, of course, means I'll be dropping all mainstream Bat-titles again, for another eighteen years, if necessary.

Batman Strikes #39
Birds of Prey #112
Black Panther #32
Booster Gold #4
BPRD Killing Ground #4
Brave and The Bold #8
Anyone who doesn't appreciate what a better place the DCU is post-Infinite Crisis and the return of the multiverse need only read this title and Booster Gold. If you still don't appreciate it, go away because you'll never appreciate that at its most basic, the DCU is a science fantasy universe where "reality" is really an uncomfortable fit.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer #8
Captain America #32
Captain Carrot and the Final Ark #2
Countdown Lord Havok and the Extremists #2
Countdown Search For Ray Palmer Gotham By Gaslight #1
Countdown Search For Ray Palmer Red Rain #1
Countdown To Adventure #4
Countdown To Final Crisis ##25-22
Countdown To Mystery #3
Crime Bible The Five Lessons of Blood #2
Daredevil #102
Death of the New Gods #3
Doc Frankenstein #6
Drafted #3
Very good comic book, dealing with an alien invasion of Earth, the twist being that the invasion is for the purpose of drafting everyone on the planet into a military force so that humans can defend themselves from a worse threat.

Ex Machina #32
Delays are hurting this book, and I don't generally care if a comic is delayed, to the point that I want to know how many issues Brian K. Vaughn envisions his story running.

Fables #67
Fantastic Four #551
I know it isn't sound business sense, but if I were running Marvel, I'd rather that Dwayne McDuffie were writing a Fantastic Four comic book that honestly reflects the team rather than giving control of the book to Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch. The latter pair will ensure that the book sells well, gaining new readers, but I'd rather those new readers were introduced to the traditional MU Fantastic Four, rather than a FF driven by the beats found in a action movie.

Fantastic Four Omnibus, vol. 1
Fearless #1
Flash #234
Franklin Richards Fall Football Fiasco
Yes! Another issue coming right on the heels of the Halloween issue. Too bad there isn't going to be a Christmas issue.

Futurama Comics #34
Godland #20
Goon Chinatown
Gotham Underground #2
Green Lantern Corps #18
Groo Hell On Earth ##1-2
Hellboy Darkness Calls #6
Heroes For Hire #15
Infinity Inc #3
Iron Man Power Pack #1
Jack of Fables #17
JLA Classified #47
JSA Classified #32
Justice League Unlimited #39
Legion of Super Heroes in the 31st Century #8
Lobster Johnson The Iron Prometheus #3
Lucha Libre #2
The last issue I'm ordering. Like I'd written earlier, I thought the first issue was too long, packed with stories I didn't care about, other than the lead. If this had just featured the lead story at a lower cover price, I'd have continued, but as it is, I can't justify it.

Madman Atomic Comics #5
Maintenance #6
Marvel Adventures Avengers #18
Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four #30
Marvel Adventures Hulk #5
Marvel Adventures Iron Man #7
Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #33
Marvel Comics Presents #3
Men Of Mystery #69
Metal Men #4
Metamorpho Year One ##3-4
I was concerned that the changes to Metamorpho's origin would fall into the category of "changes for their own sake." I was pleasantly surprised that the changes aren't so severe, it does explain how Rex Mason makes a living when penny-pinching Simon Stagg. For this series, it looks like "Year One" is going to refer to the origin story alone, which is kind of a shame because I wouldn't mind seeing Metamorpho in straight stories without an origin hook.

Midknight #1
Moonstone's Holiday Super Spectacular
I don't read any Moonstone comics, primarily because the cover prices are too high. Yet here I am getting this, but what can I say other then that I am a sucker for holiday/Christmas comic books.

Ms Marvel #21
New Avengers #36
New Avengers Illuminati #5
I wrote it before and I'll probably write it again: When it comes to mainstream super-hero comic books, Bendis's greatest strength is that he writes a great illusion of action. The trouble is, once you catch on to that, the comics he writes are kind of dull. Is it wrong of me to be glad that this is the late issue of this book?

Nova #8
Powers #27
Previews, Vol. XVII #12
PS238 #27
PVP #36
Salvation Run #1
Savage Dragon #13
Shadowpact #19
Shazam Ser 1 Action Figure Assortment
When it comes to DC Direct, one of its more annoying policies is multiple editions of the same character, but such a policy is made even more devious by usually ensuring that each succeeding version be more than a re-paint, but a whole new sculpt, one that is much better than the previous. That's how they got me with Green Lantern, as any version had to be better than the one that was released in the "Hard Travelling Heroes" wave. I actually liked the original Captain Marvel/Billy Batson set DCD released years ago enough that I skipped subsequent versions. However, with this set, which includes Maru Marvel, Junior, and Sivana (with Mr. Mind), I just gave up and bought the Captain Marvel figure, too, especially since I was buying a new Billy Batson just to get the Hoppy, the Marvel Bunny figure. You think me a fool? Look at this picture and tell me you could skip out on owning a Hoppy? Besides, he is a fit companion for my plastic Legion of Super-Pets I am gathering, the members so far being Krypto, Ace, Beppo, and Streaky.

Simpsons Comics #136
Simpsons Winter Wingding #2
Another hoilday-centric comic book. If only DC would see the logic in reprinting the complete Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer in a nice trade at kid-present-friendly prices. And, once it does see the logic, pays the licensing fee, and reprints Rudolph, I want them to put a Scooby-Doo/Batman team-up one-shor on the schedule, a sequel to the time the two met on The Scooby-Doo Movies. What is the point in having the same owner if co-owned properties can't meet occasionally (and, hopefully, meet in a more entertaining way than the way the Superman & Bugs Bunny mini-series played out. However, if there ever was a mini-series deserving of reprinting in a perpetually available format for kids, it is Superman & Bugs Bunny.

Spirit #11
Supergirl #23
Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes #36
Superman #670
Superman Annual #13
Superman Batman #43
Super-Villain Team-Up Modok’s 11 #5
Teen Titans #53
Teen Titans Go! #49
I'm not saying that it is because of my complaining, but the good news is that this title isn't canceled. Now, all we need is a similar reprieve for Justice League Unlimited.

The Order #4
Ultimate Fantastic Four #48
Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #3
Welcome To Tranquility #12
Will Eisner’s Spirit Archives, Vol. 23
Wonder Woman #14
Y The Last Man #59

Monday, November 26, 2007

November 2007 DCBS Order

I didn't mean to let so much time to past between posts, but that's the way things sometimes go, unfortunately. In an attempt to try to post something more often, here's what I ordered from DCBS this month, peppered with an occasional comment.

52 Aftermath The Four Horsemen 6
Action Comics 861
Adam Strange Archives, vol. 3
Al Capp’s Complete Shmoo The Comic Books
Most comic book readers don't appreciate how popular Shmoo was in the late 40s and early 50s. (You can go here or here, if you are interested in learning more.) If anyone knows the character at all, it is from the cartoons that teamed it with Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble (who beyond logic were cops in Bedrock) or where the Shmoo played the Scooby-Doo role in another variation on the Scooby theme. These are comics I would never seek out, but in a collection like this, I'll bite. What I'm really waiting for is the archival collection of the Peanuts comic books from the 50s and early 60s.

All-New Atom 19
Alter Ego 75
Amazing Spider-Girl 16
Amelia Rules 20
Angel After The Fall 3
Annihilation Conquest 3
Atomic Robo 4
I'll just pause here for a moment, using Atomic Robo as the example of how good all the Red 5 comics.

Avengers Initiative 9
Back Issue 26
Bat Lash 2
Batman 673
Batman Strikes 41
Birds of Prey 114
Black Panther 34
Bomb Queen, vol. 3
Booster Gold 6
In a million years, I never would have thought that Booster Gold would star in a must-buy comic, especially after he and Blue Beetle were made the JL-Bwah-ha-ha's class clowns, but he is. I just hope that the DCU that remains after Final Crisis allows for continued time travel adventures.

BPRD 1946 1
Buffy The Vampire Slayer 10
Captain America 34
Catwoman 75
Clockwork Girl 3
Countdown Lord Havok and the Extremists 4
Countdown to Adventure 6
Countdown to Final Crisis 17-14
Countdown to Mystery 5
Crime Bible The Five Lessons of Blood 4
Daredevil 104
Dark Horse Heroes Omnibus
Death of the New Gods 5
Detective Comics 840
Drafted 5
Dynamo 5 #11
Engineer 2
Essential Captain America, vol. 4
Fables 69
Fantastic Four 553
Flash 236
Futurama Comics 35
Goon 21
Gotham Underground 4
Green Lantern 27
Harvey Comics Classics, Hot Stuff, vol. 3
I don't know what makes me happier, that Harvey comic books from the late 50s through the mid-60s are getting the recognition they deserve, or that the very bad Harvey comics from the mid-70s forward are being ignored.

Hybrid Bastards 2
Immortal Iron Fist 13
Infinity Inc 5
Iron Man Power Pack 3
Jack of Fables 19
JLA Classified 50-51
Jungle Girl 5
Justice League of America 17
Justice League Unlimited 41
Justice Society of America 12
Legion of Super Heroes 38
Legion of Super Heroes In The 31st Century 10
Lobster Johnson Iron Prometheus 5
Madame Mirage 6
This might be the last issue of this title for me. I bought this solely on the basis of Paul Dini's name and the story is o.k., but I have not enjoyed the art so far. If there is another series, I'll look closely at who is named as artist and make my decision from there.

Madman Atomic Comics 8
Maintenance 9
Marvel Adventures Avengers 20
Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four 32
Marvel Adventures Hulk 7
Marvel Adventures Iron Man 9
Marvel Adventures Spider-Man 35
Marvel Masterworks Golden Age Daring Mystery, vol. 1
I never thought I'd say this, but Marvel really has DC beat when it comes to reprinting its pre-Silver Age material.

Mavis 5
Metal Men 5
Midknight 2
Mighty Avengers 8
Mouse Guard Winter 1152 #4
Ms Marvel 23
New Avengers Annual 2
Nexus #100, Space Opera Act 2 Of 4
Nova 10
Order 7
Pax Romana 1, 3
Previews, vol. XVIII #1
PS238 29
PVP 40
Red Mass for Mars 2
Salvation Run 3
Savage Dragon 136
Shadowpact 21
Shark-Man 1
She-Hulk 2 #25
Showcase Presents Ser 1, Superman Action Figure
Showcase Presents Superman Family, vol. 2
Simpsons Comics 138
Spirit 14
Superman 672
Superpowers 1
Teen Titans 55
Teen Titans Go! 51
Teen Titans The Lost Annual
Was there anyone not taken by surprise by this book on the schedule? I wish someone would ask Dan Didio what happened that he "gets" this book now, after famously taking it off the schedule because he didn't get it when it was completed.

Teen Titans Year One 1
I know that this is going to get on my nerves. Already, the half-fish Aqualad shown on the cover and Bat-jerk giving Robin grief in the preview pages annoy me, but I just couldn't control myself.

The Twelve 1
In theory, I should like this, a new story featuring Marvel's more obscure Golden Age heroes, but I know that JMS is going to insist on putting his post-modern mark on the characters, but I'm still a sucker.

Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters 5
Wonder Woman 16
Wonder Woman: Who Is Wonder Woman? collection
You never know where life is going to take you. As a child, I really disliked Mike Sekowsky's stilted art on any title other than Justice League, and here I am buying a trade of his Wonder Woman work.

World War Hulk Aftersmash Damage Control 1
I haven't read a single issue of "Planet Hulk" or "World War Hulk," yet I'm buying this because Dwayne McDuffie is writing it.

X-Men First Class, vol. 2 #8
I know it makes me a fanboy, but as much as I like this comic, I'd like it even more if the costumes the X-Men wear actually matched costumes they were shown wearing in previously published stories.

Y, The Last Man 60
Is it wrong of me to be glad that this comic is finally ending. I mean, it started out strong, but geez, it took forever to get to the end.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

My Tenative DCBS Shipment for October

This is the last Wednesday of the month, so, hopefully, sometime today or early tomorrow I'll be getting the e-mail from DCBS saying a mailing label has been printed for my shipment. If I'm lucky, the Big Box o' Joy will arrive Friday. Here's what I think will be in the box when it does arrive:

52 Aftermath The Four Horsemen #3
Abyss #1
Action Comics ##856-858
All-New Atom #16
Alter Ego #73
Amazing Spider-Girl #13
Atomic Robo #1
Back Issue #24
Bart Simpson Comics #38
Batman #670
The Batman Strikes! #38
Birds of Prey #111
Black Panther #31
Booster Gold #3
B.P.R.D. Killing Ground #3
The Brave and the Bold #7
Captain America #31
Captain Carrot and the Final Ark #1
Clockwork Girl #1
Countdown ##30-26
Countdown Lord Havok and the Extremists #1
Countdown Search for Ray Palmer Crime Syndicate #1
Countdown to Adventure #3
Countdown to Mystery #2
Crime Bible The Five Lessons of Blood #1
DC Infinite Halloween Special #1
DC Minimates Wave 6
Death of the New Gods ##1-2
Detective Comics #837
Digital Webbing Presents #35
Drafted #2
Dynamo 5 #8
E-Man Dolly #1
Essential Werewolf by Night, vol. 2
Ex Machina #31
Fables #66
Fantastic Four #550
Fantastic Four and Power Pack #4
Flash #233
Futurama Comics #33
Gotham Underground #1
Green Lantern #24
Heroes for Hire #14
Hogan’s Alley #15
Jack of Fables ##15-16
Jonah Hex #24
JSA All Star Archives, vol 1
JSA Classified #31
Justice League of America #14
Justice League Unlimited #38
Justice Society of America #10
Legion of Super Heroes in the 31st Century #7
Lobster Johnson The Iron Prometheus #2
Madame Mirage #3
Marvel Adventures Avengers #17
Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four #29
Marvel Adventures Hulk #4
Marvel Adventures Iron Man #6
Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #32
Marvel Comics Presents #2
Men of Mystery ##67-68
Metal Men #3
Metamorpho Year One ##1-2
Mighty Avengers #5
Mouse Guard Winter 1152 #2
Ms Marvel #20
Necessary Evil
Neozoic #1
New Avengers #35
Nexus Archives, vol. 6
Nightwing #137
Nova #7
Paul Jenkins Super Summer Sidekick Spectacular #2
Potters Field #2
Powers #26
Previews, vol. XVII #11
Proof #1
PS238 #26
PVP #35
Richie Rich Harvey Comics Classics, vol. 2
Savage Dragon #133
Shadowpact #18
Showcase Presents Teen Titans, vol. 2
Simpsons Comics #135
Star Trek Year Four #3
Super-Villain Team-Up Modok’s 11 #4
Supergirl #22
Supergirl and the Legion of Super Heroes #35
Superman ##668-669
Superman Confidential #8
Sword #1
Tales of the Sinestro Corps Cyborg Superman #1
Tales of the Sinestro Corps Superman Prime #1
Teen Titans #52
Teen Titans Go #48
The Jack Kirby Reader, vol. 2
Ultimate Fantastic Four #47
Ultimate Power #8
Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #2
Welcome to Tranquility #11
Wolf Man Hunters Moon Novel
Wonder Woman #13

Monday, October 29, 2007

The answer is: 37

The question: How many comic books did I read this weekend?

You'd think that that many comics would run together after awaile, but they don't, at leasat no more than normal. I do think, though, that the sheer bulk of comic books I read monthly coupled with my moderate, at best, writing speed pretty much is going to keep me from commenting as much as I want in the way that I want. I thought that the method I'd been using would help me along, but I still found myself finding something to say about everything I read, and at those kind of numbers, it adds up.

As for what I read this weekend:

I don't know how it happened; I think when it happened was during his writing of 52; but Geoff Johns's writing has become as good as his fans have always said it was. His writing doesn't feel padded anymore, I feel like I am actually getting something of a story in any one issue of a comic he writes as opposed to an event in a larger whole. Actually, I am getting less of a writing-for-the-trade vibe from mainstream DCU comics lately. Maybe a company-wide mandate was enacted at DC, reminding the writers and editors that the trades are subsidized by the people who buy monthly titles. I hope so. Now, if only DC (or Marvel) would bring back thought balloons and get rid of narration captions, and number the pages of its comic books, then I'd know that they were putting the fan of monthlies, or at least me, first.

I love the conceit of Booster Gold, but I have to wonder if it can be sustained for many years. I want this comic to last many years, if for no other reason then that I like time travel and alternate dimension stories. I've long thought the The Powers That Be at DC really shot the creative side of the comapany in the foot when it enjoined the use of time travel and alternate dimensions in mainstream stories. Despite the pathetic whining of middle-thirties-aged fanpeople, the DCU (and Marvel Universe), is as connected to reality as Middle Earth is connected to reality. Strip the DCU down to its earliest moments, and its core grows from science fiction, or at least science fantasy, the landing of a rocket on the Earth that contains a baby from another planet. (Yes, I know, Crimson Avenger, et al., have a basis in pulp fiction/crime fiction, but I'm considering the event that put DC on the map). To prevent the use of time travel and/or alternate dimensions as plot devices, both of which are traditional starting points for many a work of science fiction, hamstrings writers, chaining their imaginations and chaining the characters they write to mundane stories. Anyway, even if Booster becomes the deus ex machina for DCU retroactive continuity, after the Blue Beetle story appears, any other stories could feel anticlimatic and I'd hate for apathy to kill this book.

Dwayne McDuffie didn't disappoint with his two Justice League premieres (JLA Wedding Special and Justice League of America #13). His writing is so much better than Brad Meltzer's, at least in regard to comic books, that I really think both companies need to start reevaluating the worth of name writers from other media. The art, however, is as bad as ever, even with a new artist on the book. Why did scratchiness coupled with bad anatomy ever become a viable art style and what can I do to stop its spread?

Black Canary Wedding Planner was cute, but no where near as funny as Jann Jones had me thinking it was going to be based on her comments at Wizard World Chicago.

Let me get this straight: Giving Green Arrow a beard more suitable for an extra on My Name is Earl somehow makes him more attractive.

Ultimate Fantastic Four is becoming boring, possibly an artifact of the stories continually being written with the trade in mind. It might be cut soon.

I don't know why, but this iteration of Madman just isn't doing it for me; even Mike Allred's artistic tour de force last issue, beyond the fact of how well he aped the works of his artistic influences, wasn't enough to make me glad I can buy new issues of Madman again.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Order for Comics Shipping Primarily in December 2007

This is basically what I'll be ordering, though I am on the fence regarding a few items, especially the Essential volumes since I can usually find those at a reasonable price at Wizard World Chicago. Those comics that I may wait on are in color.

Previews, vol. XVII #12
End League #1
Buffy, the Vampire Slayer
Countdown Search for Ray Palmer Red Son #1
Countdown Ray Palmer Superwoman Batwoman #1
Captain Carrot and the Final Ark #3
Countdown Lord Havok and the Extremists #3
Salvation Run #2
Bat Lash #1
Crime Bible The Five Lessons of Blood #3
Death of the New Gods #4
Booster Gold #5
Infinity Inc #4
Metamorpho Year One ##5-6
52 Aftermath The Four Horsemen #5
Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters #4
All New Atom #18
Birds of Prey #113
Brave and the Bold #9
Flash #235
Green Lantern #26
Justice Society of America #11
Justice League of America #16
JLA Classified #48
JSA Classified #33
Shadowpact #20
Legion of Super-Heroes #37
Teen Titans #54
Wonder Woman #15
Doom Patrol Archives , vol. 4
Showcase Presents Aquaman, vol. 2
Showcase Presents Robin, The Boy Wonder, vol. 1
Batman Strikes #40
Justice League Unlimited #40
Legion of Super Heroes in the 31st Century #9
Teen Titans Go! #50
Ex Machina #33
Fables #68
Jack of Fables #18
Cryptics #3
Next Issue Project #1
Dynamo 5 #10
Fearless #2
Madman Atomic Comics #7
PVP #39
Astonishing X-Men #24
X-Men First Class, vol. 2 #7
Ultimate Fantastic Four #49
Amazing Spider-Girl #15
Annihilation Conquest #2
Avengers Initiative #8
Black Panther #33
Captain America #33
Daredevil #103
Hulk vs. Fin Fang Foom One Shot
Immortal Iron Fist #12
Iron Man Power Pack #2
New Avengers #37
Ms Marvel #22
Nova #9
The Order #6
Twelve #0
Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four #31
Marvel Adventures Hulk #6
Marvel Adventures Iron Man #8
Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #34
Marvel Adventures Avengers #19
Powers #29
Marvel Masterworks Golden Age Human Torch, vol. 2
Essential Dr Strange, vol. 3
Essential Power Man and Iron Fist, vol. 1

Bart Simpson Comics #39
Simpsons Comics #137
Simpsons Super Spectacular #6
Superpowers #0
Jungle Girl #4
Drafted #4
Fist of Justice #1
Angel After the Fall #2
Maintenance #8
Abyss #2
Atomic Robo #3
Neozoic #2
Alter Ego #74
Deadly Beloved Ms Tree (Novel)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Today's Out of Context Comment

Once I am in charge, anyone--and I mean anyone--who says "It makes my head hurt" or some other phrase referring to physical pain when discussing a story involving time travel, unless it is documented through testing that that person's I.Q. is less than 85, will be immediately killed for drawing attention to your ignorance.

Monday, October 22, 2007

OML for September, Part 3

Man, my October shipment should be on its way next week and I don't think I've read half of September's shipment. I guess I could blame my new job with the required hour-and-a-half drive, one way, and the necessity of getting out of the house before 5:00 A.M., as the culprit eating into my time. The real culprit is, however, Xbox 360 and the golden age of games in which we now have the honor of enjoying. Within the last six weeks, Bioshock, Halo 3, and The Orange Box were all released, so I have little time for television let alone readong. Actually, I do have time for reading as the baby doesn't feel her day is complete unless she is read a good dozen or so books a night and she has reached a stage, at 10 months, where she just isn't content to lay next to me while I read comics outloud to her.

Anyway, here's the beginning of September's Category B comics and here's an explanation of how I categorize and read my comics, for those who haven't read it yet. I'm really going to try to rein-in the feeling that I should comment on every comic I read, if only to speed up the posting process.

Category B
PS238 #25
I really enjoy this comic and it should be much lower in the pile, but it has occasionally really tugged at my heartstrings and if I'm going to tear up, I'd rather do it earlier than later. For those who don't know, PS238 is about a public school for the super-powered (generally) children of super-heroes and a few super-villains. The children are the primary protagonists, but the school's staff, comprised of retired super-heroes, plays a role, too. In this issue, Aaron Williams, the writer/artist brings together a few plots that he has been presenting for a while now, the culminating event an alien invasion. Reading the comic, you get the feeling that everything is going to tie up nicely because this is the twenty-fifth issue, mainly because that is the rhythm of mainstream comics. However, the invasion isn't stopped, and like a Marvel comic written at the company's creative height in the mid-1960s, you want to come back to find out what comes next. By the way, this is an excellent all-ages comic, the plot and action neither too slow nor overflowing as to alienate child or adult. In fact, I think a new reader could pick up the latest issue and be able to dive right in without missing a beat. However, that is only possible if that new reader is willing to set aside any notions that a comic is inacessible after the second issue.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

OML for September, Part 2

Category A (cont.)

Y, the Last Man #58
Is it wrong of me to be happy that this comic finally coming to the end of its story? I'd have to go look at the back issues to tell when it happened, but about two-and-a-half years ago the story started feeling padded to me. Not that there haven't been some nice moments and interesting reveals during that time, but I just kind of feel it could have gotten to the end sooner. Beyond that, those last few pages were a hell of a kick in the head and, for me, kind of disappointing. Especially in contrast with the book's cover.

Marvel Comics Presents #1
I'm not sure yet. The point of an anthology, I would think, is that there should be one feature that brings a person back to buy the book. For me, it would be the Hellcat story, and if it doesn't run past issue #3 I'll stick with it, but nothing else really excited me. Maybe I've so distanced myself from the Marvel Universe, ignoring huge chunks of characters and books for years, that the characters featured can't excite me. However, when you have a Spider-Man story, where he meets all the other Spider-Men (Spider-Mans?) from all the other dimensions and alternate realities, and it doesn't generate as much interest in me as any random issue of Marvel Team-Up from the 1980s, something is wrong somewhere.

Wonder Woman Annual #1
When all is said and done, Alan Heinberg's story was a lot about nothing, and that was emphasized by having the chronically late story finish not in the monthly title where is began, but in an annual because the monthly title had to move past waiting for whoever was late, Heinberg, the Dodsons, or both. The best part of the story was the conversation between Wonder Woman and Batman, but then, long before it became part of the character development on Justice League Unlimited, I've always thought the two should get together. I guess I might be more forgiving if, in the end, the story just wasn't so outdated by events currently happening in the DCU titles. However, I did like the back-up story, a Secret Files-like story that presented backstories for Diana Prince, Nemesis, and Sarge Steel, and it was written by Heinberg, too, with art by Gary Frank. The best part of this story, though, was the inclusion of Thunderbolt with the other Action Heroes for a panel. Harbinger that the character is part of the DCU again or mistake? I'd like it to be the former, but I'm pretty sure it is the latter.

Buffy, the Vampire Slayer Season Eight #6
In some small way, I almost wish that Joss Whedon had provided us a bible for the show's eighth season and let fans daydream about would might have been rather then seeing them produced in comic book form. Not that this is a bad series, but it is a comic book series and not a television series, so no matter what, it is always going to feel like a comic-book derived from a television series. I think what I'm trying to say is that if Buffy had started as a comic book, this would be a fantastic continuation, but as a continuation of a television show, it suffers for being a comic book.

Countdown to Mystery #1When the Eclipso back-up story is more interesting than the main story, something is wrong. Why I understand that Steve Gerber needed to include background on where Dr. Fate's helmet had been until showing up here, even without that material, I found the story a little confusing and kind of boring. Like I said, Eclipso fares better, though the background of the character is veering away from how I remember it and while the inclusion of Plastic Man is slightly interesting, would that the character was more like Jack Cole's version and not the "funny" version thrust upon us by Grant Morrison.

The Irredeemable Ant-Man #12
I know I'm supposed to be heartbroken that this canceled, but I'm kind of glad because it is a comic I don't have to buy anymore. It looks like Eric O'Grady could be maturing at story's end. We'll see if that continues into Avengers: The Initiative.

Supergirl #21
Liberty Comics #1

Sergio Aragone's Groo: 25th Anniversary Special
Maybe the best thing about Groo is that the Sergio and Mark Evanier don't feel a need to update the character for a decreasing, aging fan base. I've read Groo sporadically over the last twenty-five years, but I've always liked it, and, even though I didn't know who some of the characters were outside of Groo and his dog, I neither felt I had to go back and buy read all the back issues nor did I feel cheated because a what-has-happened previously page wasn't at the front. Yes, most of the supporting cast was re-introduced in "The Groo Alphabet" and Groo's early years were shown in "Groo for Sale," but those were back-up stories, properly read after the lead story.

Jungle Girl #1
I'm still enjoying the story, even with what feels like Frank Cho's greater participation. Thankfully, because of the inclusion of more unapologetic shots of Jungle Girl's chest and backside, Cho appears to be influencing the art more than the dialogue.

Batman and the Outsiders #50
I did not read an issue of this when Judd Winick was writing the title and I only picked up this issue because I needed to see if this was were the darkening of Batman (something I don't want) was going to start. Thankfully, Batman wasn't the jerk I've disliked prior to Morrison and Dini writing the character, and I didn't mind the comic so much, though the fingernail dropping passing as Metamorpho needs to get rid of Queequeg's facial tattoos.

Friday, October 19, 2007

OML for September, Part 1

I just finished my comments on August comics, and here comes September. I've vowed only comment on those comics that made an impression on me, for good or bad, and to reduce my commentary when I do write. We'll see how that works out.

Category A
Jungle Girl #0
Being a well-adjusted, heterosexual male, I enjoy Frank Cho's art. His writing on the other hand . . . well, I like his writing on Liberty Meadows. I was very disappointed with his writing of the Sheena mini-series from a couple of years ago, though the art was beautiful, so I didn't have much hope for this to be any better, but since it was only a quarter, I wouldn't be out much. Maybe because all Cho did was supply the cover and the plot, but even as a short introductory piece, Jungle Girl #0 was heads and tails better than his Sheena. The story by Doug Murray, the same person who wrote The 'Nam for Marvel, held my interest and the art by Adriano Batista is that clean-line style that I think is best suited superhero and superhero-like comics. I had never come across Batista's art before, but now any book to which he is attached I'll consider buying. I've already bought #1 off the stand and am adding this to my DCBS order.

JSA Classified # 30
Take Doug Murray's and Adriano Batista's work on Jungle Girl, invert it, and you'll get the thick, gloppy mess writer Arvid Nelson and artist Alex Sanchez have produced for the second part of the current Mr. Terrific-centric story. This is terrible in so many ways that I don't even know where to begin. No, that's wrong. I can begin with this, since it shows the trifecta of bad editing, art, and writing:

The first panel is confusing with the poor placement of balloons. Read the first balloon on the left, its speaker not really defined by the balloon's arrow, then move on to Mr. Terrific's. Because Terrific's balloon comes second, it appears that he is responding to the first speaker and that that speaker is Jay Garrick. That then, by the rules of comic reading espoused by Scott McCloud, makes Jay the blobby lug in the next panel where he makes a rather Marvel-esque comment, the bigotry of which is not only out of character for Jay Garrick, one of the traditional nice guys in the DCU, but for any of DC's WWII/Earth-2 heroes who have consistently emphasized that World War II was, among other things, a battle against prejudice.

Now, in fairness, in the panel prior to the first one shown here, Jay is speaking, but I didn't understand that to be the case until I was working with the image. When I first read the comic, I thought blobby lug was Jay and the way the balloons are placed there really isn't anyway reason not to make that assumption. The reason I wanted to post this image in the first place was to show the totally out-of-character comment the blobby lug makes. The comment is more fitting coming from a Marvel character like Magneto. DC's WWII/Earth-2 heroes have never been shown that they consider themselves any different then non-superheroes, yet here blobby lug, who represents Ted Grant, I believe, uses "normals" in the pejorative in what you know is the same disparaging tone some people use when they call a monthly comic book "floppy" or "pamphlet." Character development comes from a consistent characterization, not from a characterization bit dropped in pointlessly.

Infinity, Inc. #1
Not my Infinity, Inc., but the team I'm familiar with hasn't been that team since Crisis on Infinite Earth changed the rules. The first issue wasn't bad, but nothing spectacular either, especially after Peter Milligan's great writing on X-Statix. I've heard at least one person call Max Fiumara's art more fitting for a Vertigo title and I can see what they mean. It is a little dark, but that be more a factor of the coloring. To be honest, in my opinion, the art isn't up to the level of craftsmanship readers expect in a Vertigo title. Still, I'll give it a couple of issues to improve.

Lucha Libre #1
This is not the comic I thought it was going to be and I'm not sure if I liked it or not. It is actually an anthology with stories based around the archetypical character of the Mexican wrestler. I thought the lead story, featuring The Luchadores Five, was going to be the whole book when I ordered it, so I am glad to write that I did enjoy that feature. In concept, it reminds me of the 'Mazing Man series from DC twenty or so years ago, in that the five characters are superheroes, continually in costume, though for the Five "costume" means wearing masks of the type Mexican wrestlers wear and street clothers. None of the Five appear to have access to money like 'Maze did to fund their campaign against crime and injustice; those who have cars aren't driving this year's model and of the homes we've seen, none give the impression of lower middle class. I'm really indifferent to the rest of the comic, and probably would have like Lucha Libre more had it featured just The Luchadores Five and lowered the cost of the comic. Still, being published as a bi-monthly makes the cost more absorable, so I guess I'll stay with this until the lead story ends, if nothing else.

Daredevil #100
Nightwing #136
The art was slightly better than last issue, but not by much. I never noticed Jamal Igle like I should have, but after he was taken off of this comic, I sure notice his absence. Combine that with a lackluster Wolfman story, though you'd think that since he'll soon be leaving Nightwing to write a new Vigilante comic, he'd make the new Vigilante, introduced last issue, more interesting. He doesn't and I'm just biding my time until I no longer receive my pre-ordered issues.

Star Trek: Year Four #2
This is really a rather pedestrian title. Maybe David Tischman is the world's biggest original Star Trek fan, but from the last two issues, I'm not getting that feeling. I guess Tischman deserves some credit for staying within the scope of the stories told on the original, but I'd rather the stories had a little more of the second season flair, rather than the drabness of alien-civilization-as-allegory stories of any season TNG presented here so far. A far greater disappointment to me is Steve Conley's art. I love his Astounding Space Thrills, but where his more cartoony style is perfect for that book, one that he also writes, it just seems a little "off" for Star Trek. Mind you, I'd rather see his style of art than any number of Image-influenced artists working today on any number of comics from Nightwing to New Avengers, but he really doesn't help sell the illusion that the stories are "actual" fourth season episodes. Maybe Conley should start writing ST: Y4 and an artist with a slightly more realistic style be brought in.

Dynamo 5 #7
Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Parallax #1

The Flash #232
I'm sorry, but Danial Acuna's art is not appropriate for conveying speed, at least to me. The way he substitutes color for actual line work might impress some, but it does nothing for me, Yeah, yeah, I know that I supposed to embrace his work because he is bringing a more European style to mainstream comics, but, you know what, there's a reason I'm not buying European comics and pretending to like them. I'm not in high school and I don't have to do things or say I like things because I think that'll make the cool kids like me. If you like Acuna, God bless you, but it isn't for me. Another title I'm giving a few more issues, at least until the alien invasion story ends.

The Immortal Iron Fist #9
The Immortal Iron Fist Annual #1
I need to apologize. Iron Fist really is a good comic book and I only keeping putting it at the top of pile because each month I assume it is going to be a "reimagining" of the character for the more cool modern fan. Then each month I read it and I am impressed with the story and art. It was the Iron Fist Annual, though, that helped convince me that Iron Fist deserves to be more toward the bottom of the pile. I'm a sucker for stories set in the thirties and a sucker for lineage heroes, ala the Phantom, and the annual had everything. Even Howard Chaykin's art was more controlled than I'd seen it in a while. Iron Fist is moving toward the bottom next month.

Jack Kirby's Galactic Bounty Hunters #6
So, it ends. Every month or so as new issues came out, I read this and it felt I was reading Jack Kirby. Not the Kirby overflowing with ideas, but the Kirby who squirted out concepts for Topps Comics toward the end of his life. Galactic Bounty Hunters might have been better even if late-in-life Jack Kirby wrote and drew it, but having four credited writers and three credited artists (one of whom is Kirby) didn't really make it better. My suggestion is that Lisa Kirby, Jack's daughter and one of the credited writers, turn the whole thing over to Karl Kesel, credited for art, but he had received writing credit on other issues, have him bring in Tom Grummett on art, and let them go to town. With those two, I'd buy the next mini-series, if such is solicited, but without at least Kesel writing, I don't think so.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Cover Comments

Over at Comics Should be Good, Brian Cronin usually posts commentary regarding the covers shown in each month's Marvel and DC solicitations. Here are links to his comments on DC and Marvel comics solicited for release this coming December.

Personally, I have no idea what he is talking about, but I think he is looking at the covers with an artist's eye, so I'm sure we have different standards regarding a comic book cover and its purpose. Myself, I think the covers of most titles published by the Big 2 are rather pointless. If the cover doesn't actually reflect the contents of the comic to which it is attached--that is, a cover presenting some moment from the comic itself rather than a meaningless picture of the lead character(s) and drawn by a different artist then the one drawing the interior--the point of the cover is rendered moot.

Suffice to say, I have little love for covers as they are currently used. In my opinion, a cover is meant to sell a comic to people who wouldn't necessarily buy that comic and I think most mainstream covers don't serve that purpose. In fact, because the audience for comic books is so insular, bought by people who know what they want long before they walk in the door, I would go so far as to say that having a newly drawn cover each month isn't necessary. I do not think sales would be adversely affected if each month both of the Big 2 had blank covers except for the company logo, title logo, and UPC. To make it easier for the consumer, the covers for a month's worth of comics from each company would be printed in a different color. For instance, for comics published in November, Marvel comics could have green covers and DC comics blue covers. Come December, Marvel's might be yellow and DC's red, January another pair of colors and so on.

At one time I planned on presenting a group of covers from the December solicitations as the ones I found particularly annoying, but some things aren't possible, mainly because I misplaced the flash drive with the covers I'd chosen and I'm too busy to gather them again. However, that doesn't mean I can't offer a few, at least the few I had sense enough to upload before losing the drive.

All Star Superman #10

This cover, at least, doesn't suffer from what I consider one of the primal sins on covers today: presenting the image so close up that the action is lost. Can't have a wider shot than one that shows a giant Superman ready to catch the Earth if it were too fall. However, I have to ask if anyone else thinks Superman looks like Dick Van Dyke?

Countdown Special:  The Atom 80 Pg. Special #1

This is a great example of a bad cover, if that statement is based on what I wrote a few paragraphs back. As part of DC's plan to reprint everything even tangentially related to events in Countdown, DC is reprinting some pretty obscure comics. In truth, the stories that will be in this issue; and the next, it runs for two issues; are probably pretty germane to Ray and Jean Palmers' story that began in Identity Crisis, as the stories show the Atom's search for Jean after she went off the deep-end (again). However, is there anything about this picture that relates that information? The stories reprinted are from Super-Team Family, so not only do the stories feature Atom, but at various time Supergirl, Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Aquaman, Captain Atom, and Wonder Woman also appear. Is that information presented by the cover? For everything that image tells me, the cover might just as well be a solid color.

Bat Lash #1

The phrase "continuity porn" is thrown around a lot these days, usually in reference to the mainstream comics from the Big 2, though, I guess, there are people who are actually concerned about continuity in pornography and are "taken out of the story" because of some silly little error. I don't necessarily agree with the reasoning behind the phrase, but the covers offered for the first issue of Bat Lash kind of supports the continuity porn concept.

What do I mean? Let's assume that there is going to be a logo for the comic and all the other particulars common to mainstream covers. Ok, after that, what is there about any of these covers that tells you what or who is a "Bat Lash?" A knowledgeable comic fan might purchase it because of the creators involved or because he knows the name "Bat Lash" from either seeing the character on Justice League Unlimited or recognizing the name from house ads in DC comic books printed in the late sixties, early seventies. An unknowing fan might think it related to the Batman titles in some way. I give both covers, the issue ships with a variant cover, credit for showing action scenes that I'll assume actually occur in the story, but is there anything on those covers that would make a unknowing person want to buy this comic? Western comics, in general don't sell and haven't sold for decades, so the genre isn't the selling point. DC must expect to make sales based upon the name only and since the name is recognizable only to comic-book fans, Bat Lash is a form of continuity porn.

Compare those covers with select examples from the first Bat Lash run:

I think these serve to describe the character much better than the newer covers. They tell a potential buyer the comic is a Western, one that may not take itself too seriously, with a central character who may nor walk the straight and narrow consistently.

Good thing I didn't post more covers.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

OML Comments for August, Part 5

I finished reading these just under the wire as the monthly DCBS shipment arrived on the last Thursday of September. Now if I could only write faster. And read faster. (And have more time for both. And have time for uninterrupted video game playing.) I've had the comics for a week and I've only read one of them, and I've not even looked yet at Previews.

Category C (cont.)
Batman #667
See below.

Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four #4
As sad as it is that Mike Wieringo died so young and without any warning, at least his last published work, that I know of, was this comic book, which played more to his strengths than any other in-continuity Marvel Universe comic right now. From everything I heard about the man since his death, it sounds like he enjoyed light-hearted stories and that was this four-part mini-series. In a perfect world, Wieringo would still be alive and working on Tellos. Then, in his free time, he and Dan Slott, the writer of this series, would team to create numerous such comics for both of the Big 2, a more appealing, to me at least, version of Loeb/Sales, presenting stories of the characters in a way the reminds readers that mainstream super-hero comic books used to champion a sense of wonder.

Batman #668
Batman is an important character to me. In January 1966, I was four-and-a-half years old and on a cold, I assume, Wednesday night Batman premiered on ABC. Though I had owned comic books by that age, Batman solidified my eternal love of the genre and produced in me a love for the Batman character that can only be produced when one is introduced to something at four and a half. One of the most bothersome aspects of the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths DCU is that a combination of Denny O'Neil, Tim Burton-man, and The Dark Knight Returns, created a vision of the character that could be described as "jerk," but for which "dick" worked much, much better. I couldn't stand Batman for decades and stopped buying most Bat-titles after "A Death in the Family," not for the story in and of itself, but because DC gave fans a voice in deciding if a character lives or dies. I tried a random title hear and there, I was suckered for an issue or two after "Bruce Wayne--Murderer," foolishly believing that Batman after that story would be less of a dick. Hearing that Grant Morrison would write Batman after Infinite Crisis didn't exactly make be feel good; his characterization of Batman in JLA was but one of many flaws in his handling of the team, in my opinion, of course, as he perpetuated the Bat-dick persona (as well as introducing that silly "HH" sound had Batman make, I guess he felt using "hurm" was too obvious) and built the base for the OMACs with Batman's take-down protocols of other heroes. Plus, I never know which Morrison is going to show up until after I've bought a comic, the one who knows how to write based on cultural expectations of the western world or the one that throws out crazy ideas with neither rhyme nor reason and only a loose connection to the concept of a beginning, a middle, and an end. So far, the former Morrison has been showing up and may I say that his handling of the character has been terrific; because of his writing on Batman, and Paul Dini's on Detective Comics, I can buy mainstream Bat-titles again, confident that the Batman presented in each is a hero, not a jerk, and really not "the God-damn Batman".

Morrison's story in this and the previous issue of Batman is a perfect example of everything that is good with Batman now, and with the post-Infinite Crisis DCU. One of the many things that disappointed me with DC's post-Crisis on Infinite Earths output was the random erasure of stories from a character's history because the then-current writer and/or editor didn't like them, deciding that the stories didn't fit into their view of the character. People can bash Dan Didio all they want, but for all of his supposed sins, why does no one ever bring up his statement that DC was wrong to ignore/remove stories from continuity?

It is with that attitude guiding him that, post-Infinite Crisis, Grant Morrison is actually able to respectfully re-introduce the Club of Heroes with a straight face. (I can't imagine such being possible under Denny "urban legend" O'Neil's term as Bat-title editor; better to break Batman's back.) Morrison allows the original story to stand, a photograph of Batman, smiling, standing in the middle of the Heroes is even show, but he also allows time to have passed and the Heroes are older and have evolved. Once they were that team in the photograph, but now each is in a different place. Honestly, that's all I ask: If you envision yourself as a post-modern writer of comic books, don't change past stories to fit your vision. A good writer works with what he is given; a poor writer changes the source material to better suit him. Yes, I am still referring to Justice League: Year One. Enjoyed these first two parts and I am looking forward to the last part.

Justice Society of America #8
Somehow, Geoff Johns is starting to show me in his writing on this comic what everyone else has seen since JSA #1. I still think he draws stories out too long; it would do him good to knock off at least one issue of every story he plots out. Still, the team and the book feels refreshed even if Johns is writing it and I am enjoying the book, not just thinking I should be enjoying it because if features characters named after Golden Age heroes. What Johns has created might all fall apart come the end of Final Crisis and whatever rearrangements are made to the DCU, but, hopefully, Johns won't be treated like Roy Thomas and All-Star Squadron, and he'll get to continue as he started.

The Spirit #9
I have decided that I don't enjoy this comic book as much as I should. I mean, I did, but now the luster of its newness has dulled and I can see it for what it really is: Poor work by Darwyn Cooke trying to be something he is not while being forced to conform to modern expectations of storytelling in comics. Mind you, the art is still wonderful to look at; other mainstream comic books should have the courage to admit that the ugly, jaggedly inked scratchings too many editors try to pass off as art is awful and reach out to more artists like Cooke, Mike Norton, Tom Grummett, etc. However, Cooke's writing is defeating the purpose of hiring a writer/artist, especially a writer/artist who is following in the footsteps of one of the best writer/artist, Will Eisner.

If you have this issue, take it out and really look at it. Look at how Cooke overwrites in the style of the modern comic-book writer. The page where we follow Ebony on his own. There are far, far too many thought captions (and why are those in anyway better than thought balloons). Cooke is telling us, rather than showing us. I am pretty sure Eisner could have presented the same images cinematically. Maybe it is just Cooke's discontent showing through and he didn't want to do the work necessary to present wordless sequences, but, in retrospect, he really has diminished the Spirit, turning the character from classic icon to run-of-the-mill-noirish P.I., by shoving the character into the constraints of modern story telling. The Spirit goes from classic icon,

The Brave and the Bold #6
Booster Gold #1
In my opinion, mainstream comic books fell upon hard creative times because the companies tried to force basically fantastic characters and millieus into realistic straightjackets. Case in point, was DC's determination to remove the ability for characters to easily travel through time and/or space. This led to such things as the decree that any method of time travel can only be used once by anyone. At that time, I thought such things were foolish additions that hamstrung writers every bit as much as if the producers of a Star Trek series or Stargate decided to impose rules that made the intergalactic travel impossible. In retrospect, I must have been right because time travel and intergalactic travel are both back, and both appear relatively easy. I'm not saying they are accessible to every character, but they sure seem easier than they did post-Crisis on Infinite Earths.

I write all that as introduction to my comments on these two series. I love them. They are everything I want in a DC comic: Fine, high-adventure writing with the illusion of character development thrown in, presented with clear, dramatic art by artists unafraid to use their art in service of the story, rather than in service of their ego. The Brave and the Bold was a roller coaster of a story, mixing and matching characters in a joyful way, taking them across space and across time. It does my heart good to see Batman teaming with the Legion of Super-Heroes, and credit must be given to Waid for teaming Batman and Green Lantern in the first issue, recalling . For the first time since Empire, Mark Waid just told a story and didn't feel the need to tweak a character concept by inserting the little "Waidisms" that eventually turn me off of his writing. By not doing that, I finally appreciated what he is capable of doing with company-owned characters. As for George Perez's art, others have praised it better than I am capable. Suffice to say, it is perfect for this book, and superhero comic books in general; would that more editors would look to his work as inspiration when assigning book to artists rather than to the current generation of Image-influenced scratchers.

As for Booster Gold, I just want to say that anyone who whines out the sentence "Time travel makes my head hurt," is an idiot and should not be suffered to live. Booster serving as an unknown hero is a very cool, and yet sad, concept. He is now the Sam Beckett of the DCU, as he tries to make right what went wrong. If he could actually save Blue Beetle, that would be an enormous correction. Great writing, clear attractive art by Dan Jurgens. Here's hoping this book has a long life, exploring the many possible permutations of the DCU, as Booster serves as a living retcon device.

Countdown ##37-34
Let me say this once, calmly serene knowing I am correct: This is a good series. I will admit that I am not crazy about the artists that have been rotated through, but the stories themselves aren't bad. At least Countdown is following through with its promise of acting as "the backbone of the DC Universe." I read this after I have read everything else and I do not feel that I am missing out on anything, and I think it is filling in blanks for me quite nicely. People still become orgamsic discussing 52, but, to be honest, 52 did not fulfill its promise of filling in what happened during the missing year without Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, and that the series, as good as it might have been, ran out of editorial control with its focus on just Doc Magnus, Steel, etc. I think the only reason DC released the World War III specials was less to dig into the sales of "World War Hulk" and more of a place to try to fill in all the caps that Johns, Rucka, et al. were not filling in 52.

Regarding Countdown, may I suggest that those who think that DC is forcing them to buy other titles is transferring their completest mindset to DC editorial. No one is making you buy the related titles, you anal fanboy you, and I think the story does not suffer for not reading them. Unclench and don't worry about the story than might be taking place over there if you have no desire to read that comic, or that the story in The Flash isn't perfectly in line with the current issue of Countdown. Read Countdown with a more open mind and make it the last book you read every week. I think you will find it is serving as a supportive structure to the DCU.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

OML Comments for August, Part 4

In the home stretch. I might actually finish everything before the next order arrives.

Category C (cont.)
Annihilation: Conquest Starlord #2
This is the only Annihilation: Conquest title I'm reading out of the four Marvel is publishing and I only bought this because of Star-Lord. Not that the Star-Lord here even resembles the version I remember from 1977, but I don't care because there is more to this comic than just one character. As you may have heard, the basic plot is "the Dirty Dozen in space," though with with just seven characters. And what characters. Who but Keith Giffen could put Star-Lord, Mantis, Captain Universe, Deathcry, Bug, Rocket Raccoon, and Groot in the same comic, and have the ability to make Rocket Raccoon and Groot friends. I honestly can't tell you anything about the mission; though I think the mission may have something to do with what is happening in the other Annihilation comics, for me the mission doesn't matter. It is is a macguffin to me. What I am enjoying is Giffen's ability to take a band of B- and C-grade, Marvel space characters and make them more interesting through their interactions with each other. I did think that Deathcry needs/needed to think about learning to let things go, but otherwise I like these characters together. I don't know how this concept would play as an ongoing, especially if Giffen isn't writing it, but for the limited issues of a mini-series, it is working well. I really like the art on this title, too. I wouldn't necessarily want Timothy Green II and Victor Olazaba drawing a "lighter" title, She-Hulk, for instance, but the art and Nathan Fairbairn's coloring help to create a claustrophobic feeling. The uniforms designed for the characters, though I don't know if Giffen or Green designed them, are interesting, too. They remind me of uniforms worn into battle by the British in World War I. Starlord's helmet really reminds me of something from the Edwardian era, and that overfall mis-matched feeling between high technology and trench warfare really helps sell the possibility that none of the characters are going to live. In fact, two died in this issue, and one was an unexpectedly heroic death from a character Giffen hadn't been taking seriously.

Astonishing X-Men #22
This is one of two X-titles I read and when Joss Whedon leaves in two issues, I probably will, too. It has been so many decades since I did read a current-day X-title that most of the background of the story Whedon is telling is lost on me, but I don't care and I find that not knowing doesn't make the story any less compelling. I know some of you may find that difficult to believe, but it is the truth. You don't have to know every little detail from prior stories to help you enjoy a current story. Anyway, semi-interesting story, though I don't really think Whedon could ever top his first story arc that he wrote for this title. A possibly X-title changing ending, one I thought I would have heard more about, but I guess that may speak to just how jaded comic fans are these days. John Cassaday's art is beautiful as ever, though it is a shame that he can't produce work at a faster rate. By the way, am I the only one who sees a hint of Willow in Cassaday's drawing of Kitty?

Action Comics #855
For all the excitement over this comic that I've been reading, I have to say that it isn't as good as Busiek's work on Superman, but I've found Geoff Johns's and Richard Donner's writing on Action to be unimpressive so far, so why should this new story be any different? I will give Donner credit for opening himself to new ideas regarding Superman. It must have been uncharted waters not to have the Phantom Zone villains or Kryptonian crystals (again) in a Superman story. I enjoyed the re-population of Bizzaro-Earth, in a much creepier manner than Mort Weisinger ever would have allowed. I normally love anything Eric Powell does, but I didn't think his work on the art here was anything special. Bizzaro looked a lot like the Goon and I didn't see much of Joe Shuster's influence on Powell's Superman, but I'll take the blame for that. When I first read people comparing Powell's Superman to Shuster's, I was imagining that the drawing would be more akin to the Superman Wally Wood drew in the mid-seventies All Star Comics revival and I was a little disappointed that Powell's wasn't closer to the original in my eye. Still, not a bad comic book, I just didn't get as much enjoyment out of it as I do with Busiek's Superman.

Fantastic Four #548

I know Michael Turner has been treated for cancer, and from what I read he's doing better, so how much longer are people going to put up with his art? I am not a Turner fan, I never have been, and I know that Mr. Fantastic is a character that doesn't necessarily conform to the rules of anatomy and perspective, but look at his arms on this cover. What the hell is that? And don't get me started on the unnecessarily over-rendered drawing in general. Way too busy, weirdly drawn, strangely constructed, yet people love his art. I don't get it. What did I think about the comic book itself? I'll tell you right after I've read #549, which should show up in the next post.

Jack of Fables #13
There is actually subtext in this comic. Intended subtext, I think, as opposed to the subtext some people want to find in creative works. On the surface, we follow along with Jack of storybook fame. Name a Jack and it is he. Jack is Little Jack Horner, Jack be-Nimble, Jack the Giant Killer, and other of which you can think. In this comic, Jack has left Fabletown and adventuring on his own. Well, I guess he's more looking for an easy mark or three than truly adventuring, but still, he's on the road and it is the journey that matters. Underneath the story, though, I think Bill Willingham is making an examination of the mutability of mythology and culturally shared stories, which is something comic book fans should think about when they start complaining that a favorite character has changed. With Jack, after his time in Hollywood and a series of movies that he starred in, he is quite well known. For the people from the Fable lands, the more well known you are, the more concrete you are. Jack is now so popular that the cultural group mind is finding him in other stories whether he was originally present or not. For instance, a belief has sprung up that Jack is part of the King Arthur legend. Since there is no real place for him in the stories, he has replaced the Stone into which Excalibur was thrust. Lucky for him, too, since Excalibur has been thrust through his sternum. Now, all he needs is the true king to step forward and remove the sword, but he and his companions are in the middle of nowhere. Look, just read the comic. You'll like it.

Green Lantern #22
Simply put, this is a great story and has been since the Sinestro Corps Special. Ever since David Goyer stopped co-writing JSA with Geoff Johns, I've always felt his writing lacks something, I've never enjoyed his writing as much as I do when he is part of a team. However, Green Lantern is one comic book Johns appears to be able to write solo without going off into strange little places (and after one issue, at least, Booster Gold could be another). This is a story at once simple in presentation and complex in what story is told. It reminds of where mainstream comics were heading before the double whammy of Watchmen and Dark Knight produced the belief in less-talented creators that adult situations layered over a nihlistic presentation of the world (1) could reproduce the success of those earlier works; and (2) acurately represented the world. The story Johns is writing has character development and action scenes, neither more important than the other

Once upon a time, before comic fans started driving the industry and Superman, comic book stories could occur in their own little bubble, even as the characters were part of a greater shared universe. I know it crushes the soul of some fans, but Flash, for instance, could take on an alien invasion near Central City and there was no indication that he even considered calling the Justice League for help. Right now, until the inevitable merging of the aftermath of the Sinestro War with the coming Great Disaster/Final Crisis, it is just nice to read a huge story taking place in its own little bubble, without having to read the complaints of people over being "forced" to buy titles they don't want to to follow the story. You know what, I'm not buying Green Lantern Corps, I'm only following the story in Green Lantern, and I sure don't feel like I'm missing anything. We can talk about how the so-called "event fatigue" is really "obsessiveness fatigue" later.

Justice League of America #12
I guess there are people who like his work, but Brad Meltzer, in my opinion, is really over rated as a comic book writer. God bless him for having an affection for the JLA, but, you know, having an affection for something doesn't mean you should do anything more than admire that thing from afar. I think it says something that the most interesting story Meltzer wrote was in Justice League of America #0, and in retrospect, it was the single panel images of JLA stories that will/may occur in the future that really made the story. It did have an incredible use of foreshadowing though, as Meltzer leaves subtle hints that he enjoys thought captions,

What really happened in the remaing twelve issues of Meltzer's Justice League of America? Well, may I suggest nothing? Issues #1-7 were a composite story, part recreation of the JLA post-Infinite Crisis, part recreation of Red Tornado post-52. There were some interesting ideas; well, the idea of the multiple Tornados of various colors was at least visually appealing, but the intelligent Solomon Grundy just reminded me of the intelligent Grey Hulk and, for some reason, Vandal Savage. Then, after way too many issues of the Big 3 making their choices for the team, and where Meltzer used way too many thought captions as if he was writing a novel using a simultaneous narrative technique, it is all negated when other heroes go to them, offering the Big 3 membership.

The next three issues was the crossover story with Justice Society of America, "The Lightning Saga." These issues at least felt like Meltzer was telling a story about the JLA, though I think that that is more of an artifact of Meltzer being dragged into actually telling a story in comic book form because he was forced to continue the story from Geoff Johns lead in JSA every month. The story presented in #11 could have involved almost any two random heroes, there was nothing about it that inherently made it a Justice League story save that Red Arrow and Vixen, JLA members, were present. Actually, there's the next fifth-week event for DC. Throw ten character names in a hat, have five different writers each pull out two, and have each write his/her version of this story. Really, to me, this felt more like a fill-in Marvel story written when Jim Shooter was editor-in-chief there than anything else. At least it served dual purposes of getting the issue out, ticking off one story from Meltzer's contractual obligation, and of not having to reprint an old story.

Then there is this issue. Didn't I read this story, like, back in issues #1-5 or so? Why in the world did Meltzer think we needed to see, or wanted to see, small groups of heroes, talking about other groups of heroes? When I think of Justice League of America, my first thought should never be "writer's exercise." Brad Meltzer is just one person, but his work here, and, yes, on Green Arrow and Identity Crisis previously, is a key example as to why someone who is a comic book fan, even if he is a published author or a professional in another creative writing endeavor, should not necessarily write mainstream comic books. Only my affection for the Justice League, and naive hope that this run was going to be equal the hype, kept this book as near the bottom of the pile as I placed it. Had this been any other book with the same creative team, it would have placed high in category A. Next month, Dwayne McDuffie starts writing and even if I didn't already know the general quality of his work, I'd be anticipating issue #13 because sight unseen I'd know it was an improvement.

Fantastic Four #549
This is how Fantastic Four should always be written. When I've dropped FF over the years, it has been when the comic has strayed far from the basic idea presented by Lee & Kirby: Four adventurers who happen to have super power going on adventures by choice or necessity. Some people understand that concept: Byrne, Karl Kesel (who really deserves a chance to write the FF full time, and Dwayne McDuffie. (Who doesn't understand it? In my opinion, anyone who talks about the FF being a family, like that is the biggest, most important discovery ever made. Yes, I am looking at you, Mark Waid, but I digress.) McDuffie is doing great things with this comic, the least of which is salvaging Reed Richards after the previous writer and Mark Millar transformed him into a jerk, one that was one step away from using "I was only following orders" as his excuse for his actions during the Civil War, so, of course, he is only a placeholder in Marvel's eyes, keeping the writer's seat warm for Millar when he and Bryan Hitch take over the title next year.

Fables #64
A fill-in issue, I guess, because there was a fill-in artist, but it didn't matter because the story Bill Willingham chose to tell was still wonderful. As the refugees from the various Fable lands answer the call and come to the United States in preparation for the (final?) battle with the Advisary, Snow White's and the Big Bad Wolf's litter of children celebrate their birthday and are let in on a secret. I'd say that 95% of all comic books can be picked up at the beginning of a story and a new reader can figure out the characters and situations rather quickly, if said reader allows himself the chance to learn. In other words, I don't think that you have to go back and read the totality of a series to understand where the series is at the top of a new story. However, with Fables, like Sandman years ago, to not go back and pick up the back issues or trade collections is a disservice to that new reader. Fables is telling a wonderful story, and I think telling it in the same manner Sandman did, too. That is, Fables presents stories that are stand alone, yet are forming a larger story when considered as a whole. Don't let that dissuade you. I think anyone could pick up the first part of any story arc Willingham has written thus far and you could understand the story, so if you aren't picking up Fables, start here.

She-Hulk #20
Dan Slott's penultimate issue as this comic's writer, and mine as a reader. For me, this She-Hulk has only worked as a headliner when Slott is writing the character and until Civil War infected the whole Marvel Universe, it was a pleasant little corner. In this issue, Slott overtly hits the reset button for the next writer and does it with such finality I wonder what his final issue will be about.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

OML Comments for August, Part 3

I was driving to work in the pre-dawn hours this morning when the thought crossed that next week is the last Wednesday of the month. Boy, September goes fast when you aren't in school. Anyway, the last Wednesday means that I'll be getting my DCBS shipment soon and I'm way behind on the comics for August. Add to that, the fact that Halo 3 ships next week and I'll be using less time to read comic books, so I decided to get my act together and post any thoughts on the last batch of books I've read. Again, I'm posting in the order read.

Category C (cont.)
Metal Men #1
Much to my surprise, I really liked this comic book. I admit that after living through the reworking of the DCU after Crisis on Infinite Earths, I am always a little scared as to the new presentation of favorite characters; hell, Mike Carlin's horribly conceived version of the Metal Men, you know the one, where Doc Magnus decided to become a robot, was six years distant from CoIE and Carlin still saw fit to screw with a good concept. Not Duncan Rouleau, the writer/artist, though. The man appears to understand the concept and is not embarrassed by it. I may have seen his art before, but it didn't make an impression on me, but it did here. When I saw the cover in Previews, my first thought was that the art had a Walt Simonson feel to it and I like that style of art. Add to it a little mystery involving alternate earths, I think, and you have a terrific first issue. I'm hearing murmurs that the next issue is just as good, so it is good to know the first issue isn't a fluke.

Action Comics #854
Kurt Busiek writes interesting Superman stories. I don't know if it is because of the subject matter, the continuation of the "Mr. Action" story started in Countdown, or he just is capable of writing Superman without having to lean on Clark and Lois to pad out a story, but I hope Busiek writes the character for a long while. I'd really like to see him get a chance to write done-in-one stories or two stories per issue ala the Weisinger era. Not all stories need to be multi-part and I think Busiek has the talent to write tight, good stories.

Teen Titans #50
Not bad, not good, just kind of there. The story jumped around, something not helped when there are multiple writers on a story. I enjoyed this comic when Geoff Johns was writing it, but I don't know if I'll be staying around much longer.

B.P.R.D. Killing Ground #1
Continued competent work from Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, and Guy Davis. I actually like this comic more than Hellboy.

Welcome to Tranquility #9
Take Eureka, remove the scientists, replace them with retired super-heroes, and you have this comic. It is actually a lot better than my description, but I think it only works because of Gail Simone's writing. I don't think any other writer could write this comic and not turn it into a lampoon, so I'm hoping she writes for as long as it is published.

Shadowpact #16
I like the basic idea of Bill Willingham's story: Hell is using Blue Devil as its poster boy to entice more to sell their souls. I hope BD doesn't end up worse than when he started.

The All New Atom #14
Take Gail Simone, add the clean art of Mike Norton and you have another comic book that more people should be reading. My only question is if anyone else thinks the inker made Norton's art look more like second-rate Alan Davis rather then first-rate Mike Norton?

Ultimate Fantastic Four #45

Ms. Marvel #15
I like this title more than I should. It is just a shame that it takes place against the backdrop of the post-Civil War Marvel Universe.

Illuminati #4
The cover for this one is really a good example of bait and switch. I was hoping for a story where the wives/girlfriends of the Illuminati acted in their place. I have figured out what Bendis's greatest strength as a writer is, though. If Stan Lee was the champion of the illusion of change, Bendis's writing is based on the illusion of action. Boy, his characters really talk a lot.

Powers #25
And that talking/pacing is what helps make Powers a must-read comic. Speaking of not ending well, I don't see Deena's story having a happy ending. However, Christian got some in a two-page spread, in small panels. Am I the only one who thought that scene a homage to Howard Chaykin's work in the early issues of American Flagg!?